LOS ANGELES – Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov was involved in the Fight of the Year in 2013 with Tim Bradley. John "The Gladiator" Molina Jr. was embroiled in the 2014 Fight of The Year with Lucas Matthysse.
On Saturday, June 11, Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) a former WBO Junior Welterweight World Champion, and former world title challenger Molina (28-6, 23 KOs) will face each other in the 12-round main event of a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® tripleheader live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
On Tuesday, Provodnikov, Molina and undefeated WBC No. 1-ranked lightweight contender Dejan Zlaticanin participated in a Media Workout Day at Fortune’s Gym in Los Angeles.
Zlaticanin (17-0, 10 KOs), of the Southeastern European country of Montenegro, will be opposed by fellow unbeaten and WBC No. 2-ranked Emiliano Marsili (32-0-1, 14 KOs), of Italy, for the vacant WBC Lightweight World Championship in the opening match of the SHOWTIME telecast.
In the co-feature, undefeated former 154-pound world champion Demetrius Andrade (22-0, 15 KOs), of Providence, R.I., battles Willie Nelson (25-2-1, 15 KO’s), of Cleveland, Ohio, in a 12-round WBC Super Welterweight Title Eliminator.
Also on June 11, former world title challengers, Willie Monroe Jr. and John Thompson, will meet in a 10-round middleweight bout in the main event on SHOWTIME EXTREME (7 p.m. ET/PT). In the SHO EXTREME opener, heavyweight Andrey Fedosov (28-3, 23 KO's) takes on Mario Heredia (11-1, 9 KOs, 1-2 in WSB) in a 10-round heavyweight bout.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Banner Promotions, Inc., are priced at $85, $60, $45 and $35 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Turning Stone Box Office, by calling 877.833.SHOW, or online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).
Below is what the boxers said Tuesday:
(On the importance of this fight)
“Every fight is important. I come out for every fight to give everything I have. For me, every fight is like the last fight. So this is a very important fight, just like any other.
“I don’t like to make predictions too much; boxing is an unpredictable sport and it’s hard to say what will happen. Anything can happen on June 11. We’ve got a little bit to wait and we’ll see what happens.
“I don’t know if it will go to the scorecards. Anything can happen. He is also a great fighter, so maybe it will go to the scorecards.”
(On what he expects from John Molina Jr.)
“I’m expecting him to come to fight. No doubt he’s a fighter, he’s a warrior. For somebody to defeat me is a big motivation and I know he’ll be coming to win.
“No matter what, he’s going to do anything possible to win this fight. That’s what I expect from people that take a fight with me – that they’ll die in the ring to defeat me because it would be a great accomplishment. So I’m expecting a real war, a real fight.”
(On the style of fighting and the matchup)
“I think this is the type of fight that will be exciting and all-action. I think it’s a great matchup and it will be exciting for the fans.”
(On who he’s looking to fight next)
“I’m not thinking about that too much right now. Luckily my weight classes, both 140 and 147, there’s no problem with the opposition. There (are) a lot of guys, a lot of stars. After this fight on June 11 we’ll be able to start thinking about what’s next.
“I’ve always said that I’m willing to fight anyone at 140 and 147, just let me know when and I’ll be there. I’m ready to fight any of the top guys.”
(On if he would rather fight a boxer or a come-forward fighter like Molina)
“I definitely like the guys that come to fight. For me that is a better, more enjoyable fight. I like to fight a guy that wants to brawl.
(On if he’s ready to box if Molina choses to box instead of brawl)
“On June 11, I’ll be ready for anything that can happen in the ring. I’ve been watching previous fights and correcting my mistakes and I’ll be ready for anything he decides to bring.”
(On not fighting for eight months)
“I don’t see too much of a negative side to that. I just wanted some time off and now I’m ready to come back. I’m always in shape; I’m always in the gym, always training.
“I’m training all the time and always moving around even when I’m at home. Right now, training camp is going very well. Joel Diaz is very happy with training and he says everything is going a lot better than the last training camp. Everything is 100 percent. I’m not worried at all.”
(On his relationship with trainer Joel Diaz)
“Everything is going great. When Joel and I are training together it’s always very positive. That’s important for me. I’m enjoying the training camp and I’m having a good time, which is the most important thing.
“Boxing-wise I’ve added a lot of different things. Most importantly, I’ve increased my defensive skills and that’s going to show in this fight very much and I’m positive of that. More than that, my punching combinations have gotten better in the last few camps and that’s going to show. Joel and I work well together and that’s definitely important.”
JOHN MOLINA JR.
(Thoughts leading up to the fight)
“I am really excited. Ruslan is a hell of a fighter and competitor. I think it’s a can’t-miss, all-action fight when you have someone like myself and Ruslan in there.
“Stylistically I think there are thing that I have to my advantage. Stature-wise: my height, my reach. But with that being said, when the fight starts, all of that is going to go out the window and we’re going to fight.
“We were both in Fights of the Year, but we were both on the losing ends. Now we want to be on the winning end. I think that is an unwritten motivation for both of us.
“Stylistically it’s a great matchup. We’ve had a common opponent and of course you can draw that he was in a Fight of the Year with some other fighter. But I’m not that stature. I am 5-feet-11 with a reach that he can’t compare with. On June 11 after the first bell rings, I’ll be able to tell you exactly how the fight is going to play out.”
(On the importance of winning this fight)
“Every fight is important. Fortunately and unfortunately, boxing is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ type of sport. For me, I didn’t have an extensive amateur career so the pros were, in essence, my amateur career. But I believe I’m at the right spot right now, where I need to be to hit my stride.
“Of course a victory is always the goal. I don’t like to lose at checkers and I don’t want to lose at boxing. To keep the lifestyle that I have going, I have to continue to be victorious and move forward.
“We definitely want to catapult off of a big marquee name. We want to be on the winning side. That is the goal 110 percent. We won’t be satisfied with anything less than a victory. I’m not content with getting in these fights because people love to watch me fight. I want to be content with getting these fights because I’m victorious and that’s what we’re planning on doing on June 11.
“I feel like you’re going to get the best of me now. I feel like my longevity isn’t a question because I didn’t have the extensive amateur career. A lot of these guys have been boxing since they were eight years old. I didn’t start until I was 17. I didn’t turn pro until I was 24. I only had 22 amateur fights. So the miles on my odometer, so to speak, are less than someone like Ruslan who had an extensive amateur career. He’s been in more wars than me.
“Either way you slice it, boxing takes something from you. Whether it’s your youth, your sharpness, boxing is that kind of a sport where it draws something from your body. I believe he’s had it worse than me. I feel stronger and more experienced for lacking those years.”
(On what this fight means for his career)
“This is the most important fight for me because the WBC title has been my dream since the first day I went to the gym. I will be the new champion.
“I was always the underdog in every fight but now I don’t get underestimated. My opponent is going to get the best me on June 11. I think those who underestimated me were wrong all along, but I will put some good shots on him and he’ll go down. I will knock him out.
“I think they [fans] will cheer for me like I am a home fighter and I will do my best to bring the good fight.”
(On his opponent)
“He’s a boxer. He’s smart, but he has no power. He will try to box, keep a distance and use his height advantage. He will use his footwork to keep me at bay, but it won’t work.”
(Thoughts on fighting for first world title)
“I am very excited and I am very happy to be fighting for my first world title. I am coming from a little country and I want everyone to know where Montenegro is and I can’t wait to get in the ring.
(On fighting in U.S. for first time)
“People in America, they’re fans, they love good boxing. It doesn’t matter where you are from, they just like good fights. They like my style because I am a fighter and I go forward.”